From stock to sales to orders: the BI tool that AQUAMATRIX uses to get up-to-the-minute reports [case study]

Unpredictable economic realities challenge businesses to a freestyle race. While some companies have spent the past few years floundering without purpose or direction, others have been able to use this time to build a strong foundation that will take them successfully to the finish line. Even if this sounds abstract, the story of our collaboration with AQUAMATRIX, which we will tell you about in the following lines, will illustrate what we have said above.

AQUAMATRIX is the official importer for Bulgaria of 14 premium snowboard and bike gear brands – TREK Bikes, Lib-Tech, GNU, Smith, Northwave, Drake, Bent Metal, Bontrager, Maxxis, Magura, Topeak, Level, SixSixOne and Roxy. The company launched in 2015 and from its first steps into the market, it has digitized and streamlined its business processes, quickly becoming an example of a forward-thinking company that uses software solutions to grow.

As of mid-2020, AQUAMATRIX still relies on the capabilities of the Atlantis ERP management software implemented by our company. A year later, again with our help, the company optimized its business with Oracle’s NetSuite cloud ERP system. It’s important to note that NetSuite was implemented right during the Covid years when businesses not only in Bulgaria but around the world didn’t know how the situation would develop.

It was in these uncertain times that AQUAMATRIX’s management decided to software upgrade the company – from a new resource planning system to an online store, to cloud-based business analytics software.

The company now has and successfully operates the cloud version of the Business Intelligence (BI) solution Qlik Sense, from our long-standing partner Qlik.

Need for quick general reports

The main reason AQUAMATRIX wanted to implement the BI tool was the need for fast and accurate analytical reports to help the small but dedicated team navigate sales, inventory, and turnover by channel – online store, physical store, and warehouses, B2B sales – in a timely and fast manner. Thanks to Qlik Sense, such reports are completed within minutes.

“We needed a software that could organize all the information and show it to us quickly and understandably,” says Nikolay Dimitrov, Business Development Manager and Partner at AQUAMATRIX.

He adds that, in his experience, the lack of such business analytics software makes gathering the necessary information a slow, difficult, and resource-intensive task.

Initially, the BI tool was installed at the customer’s site (so-called on-premises) and integrated with NetSuite ERP. At a later stage, the management decided to implement the cloud version of Qlik Sense, with which it could take advantage of the benefits of cloud technology related to lower IT infrastructure costs, automatic upgrades and always working with the latest version of the solution, high reliability and data security.

AQUAMATRIX is thus switching completely to the cloud version of the Qlik Sense BI software.

“We have known Balkan Services professionally for a long time and get along very easily with all team members. Each of them is a very good professional and knows their product in detail. They also have very good accountants and financiers, which are very important for the process because most of our projects are related to accounting. From the very beginning of our work together, we have had a well-functioning system. The Balkan Services team is at a very high level and the whole project, except for some unforeseen circumstances, went according to plan,” Nikolay Dimitrov shares his impressions of working together.

Key highlights of the BI project work

Over three months, the project to implement the cloud BI tool went through – meetings with the client; clarification of the objectives and the data that would be needed for its implementation; downloading the data itself; transformations; model building; and work on the visualizations.

“Together with AQUAMATRIX, we determined their exact needs – what they want to see initially on the dashboard; how they prefer to ‘break down’ the information later; and what details to go into,” says Maya Kenova, BI consultant at Balkan Services.

Forecasts for stock, sales, and orders

The specifics of AQUAMATRIX’s business require comparisons to be made not only by year but also by seasonality, in their case from the middle of one year – to the middle of the next.

“Often orders are placed once a year and it is very important to make an accurate forecast of the quantity to be ordered and at what point in time this should happen,” notes Maya Kenova.

What our team has been able to achieve in this regard, she says, is to make it possible for the company to receive information on current stock and last year’s sales. Thanks to the BI software, the company can easily make forecasts of stock, sales, and orders.

Through the implemented integration with Oracle NetSuite, the business analytics tool draws data from the ERP software and visualizes it.

“The data is pulled every morning and the information in the BI software is updated daily. This way the management has up-to-date and correct data,” explains the BI consultant.

It was also important for the success of the project to display sales information by channel so that it was clear which channels were bringing in the most AQUAMATRIX customers.

“Company management also wanted to see which offers and campaigns were most effective. It was also important to determine the behavior of their customers – who and what they buy online and in the physical store,” says Maya Kenova.

With a business intelligence system in the arsenal of management tools, AQUAMATRIX can easily see and compare sales both by month and by current versus past year. They can see the items with the most sales by season, by year, and by month.

As an exclusive distributor, it is important to our client how not only an item performs, but the overall performance of the brand. Through the BI system, the company tracks how profits and sales have fluctuated.

The functionality of the BI solution also allows sales to be compared by both quantity and value – for a given day of this year or the previous year.

Icon BoThanks to the BI software, the company can track top-selling products daily and even create rankings, such as top 10 or top 100.

The business analytics system displays inventory by brand, and product category, and also as a comparison of sales to the same period last year or this point in the current year.

Qlik Sense enables AQUAMATRIX to correlate brands and categories. For example, select one product from a brand and match it against a similar product from another brand.

The company’s snowboard and cycling gear team can choose the metrics to track themselves, thanks to functionality in Qlik Sense that allows users to create their reports and select metrics and indicators according to the business’s needs at the time. The consultant sets the initial format and structure of the reports, while the client can modify and customize them, replacing a metric with another, adding additional metrics, or keeping the metrics and replacing the chart.

The next step towards upgrading the BI project, which is currently underway, is the integration with Google Analytics, Google’s platform used to track online store performance. Eventually, this will be done with AdWords, Google’s advertising platform, and also with Facebook.

Challenges for the BI project

The more complex points in the project are partly related to the upgrade of the BI tool.

Connecting marketing with BI software is not easy, because these are dynamic environments that evolve fast and the information changes quite frequently. That’s why it’s challenging to connect Google Analytics or Facebook to a BI tool that pulls data from them in real-time. The idea here is to get a visual timeline sequence where we can see if when we have strong marketing activity, it influences sales, after how long it influences and how it influences,” explains Nikolay Dimitrov.

According to him, this information must go hierarchically and by periods, so that the management of the company can assess how to develop its business.

“We wanted to have high-level software that would allow us to analyze results and grow quickly even when the team consists of only a few people. We need to do great and we need help – in this case, BI software replaces the missing units in the company,” says Nikolay Dimitrov.

He adds that the BI tool quickly tracks the key business indicators – sales, stock in stock, and margin – daily.

The results are not late

The Business Intelligence System has highlighted sales trends for AQUAMATRIX that the company’s management had previously guessed at but could not definitively determine.

For example, it became clear that bicycles are now the category that is going very strongly. Alongside their sales, the trade in biking-related accessories is also growing.

“The pandemic was very challenging because as there was a big boom in demand for bikes, there was also a big deficit in supply. We were never able to calculate what our losses were from lost sales,” Nikolay Dimitrov recalls.

Against the backdrop of the sales boom on wheels, it was found thanks to Qlik Sense that one brand stood out over the others, while sales for all other brands were running roughly even. This is the reason why AQUAMATRIX is actively developing the TREK bicycle brand, of which it is the official distributor for Bulgaria.

“TREK is a $3 billion annual turnover brand that is currently attracting a lot of interest. The American manufacturer with nearly 50 years of history is still a family-owned company that follows an unconventional strategy. What is interesting about this company is that it ‘locks’ markets for its distributors. This means that dealers can only sell their wheels in the territory of a given country,” says Nikolay Dimitrov.

Thanks to the Qlik Sense BI tool, AQUAMATRIX easily found that the best-selling model of this world-famous brand in our country is the Marlin.

Qlik allows the company to quickly track its sales in winter sports as well. For example, it became clear that snowboards, which are much larger in volume (which is an important factor for logistics), are much more sought after and bought than skis.

Among the sales in this category in Qlik Sense, the Lib-Tech brand stands out, of which our client is also the exclusive representative for the country.

“Purely technically, this is probably one of the most high-tech brands in the world, while also being one of the greenest,” Nikolay Dimitrov notes.

Business Intelligence software also facilitates team communication

“It’s now very easy to share information with my colleagues, as I can select what they can see, so they only see the things that are important to them,” says Nikolay Dimitrov.

He says Qlik Sense also has added value for the dealers and resellers the company works with.

“At the moment, many of our dealers rely on our information for past years because they don’t have such analytics software and therefore can’t explore the data. The information that we provide them about what number of goods they have sold, in which months, and in what scales helps them to place their orders more easily,” explains Nikolay Dimitrov.

Like every company, AQUAMATRIX also holds weekly meetings, which with the help of business analytics software require shorter preparation.

“Before implementing the BI tool, I had to prepare for the meeting, and now I just have to open Qlik to see how we did in the past week and see the trends,” says Nikolay Dimitrov.

And adds that the reports in the system are available instantly with a few clicks.

BI project success factors

The implementation of the BI tool at AQUAMATRIX confirms the successful formula shared by many of our customers, including Nikolay Dimitrov, namely “The customer knows what he wants and we know how to achieve it”.

According to our BI consultant Maya Kenova, the key factors are good preparation and easy communication with the client’s team.

“What helped us a lot is that the management knew very well what they wanted to see as a result, and our team was clear on how to deliver it,” she says.

In this case, the move to the cloud version of Qlik Sense was also helped by the fact that AQUAMATRIX was not in an active season during the project and with a solid dose of enthusiasm managed to devote the necessary time and attention to the project.

At Balkan Services we have expert knowledge of business, technology, and legislation, and we speak all three languages. We will listen carefully, and advise you on choosing the right business system for your needs.

Balkan Services has been implementing business software solutions since 2006 and has completed more than 660 projects, of which over 400 are in the area of BI software. We follow a proven implementation methodology with clear steps and know-how on best practices.

Balkan Services
Balkan Services

Balkan Services has been implementing software solutions for businesses since 2006 and has completed more than 720 business software implementation projects and building complete IT infrastructure for 390+ companies. We follow a proven implementation methodology with clear steps and best practice know-how.